Top 11 Best Audio Equalizer Brands In The World 2021


Equalizers (EQs) are one of the most important audio mixing tools, period. It makes sense, then, that there are plenty of EQ options from numerous companies. Navigating the market to find the best EQ unit for certain applications can be difficult. So in this article, we’ll discuss the top brands/companies that produce audio equalizers.

This article will focus on hardware equalizers, though there are certainly many options when it comes to plugins. Many plugins are actually designed to emulate hardware, so even if you’re more interested in plugin EQ, this list may very well help you out.

If you’d like my take on the best plugin brands, check out my article Top 11 Best Audio Plugin (VST/AU/AAX) Brands In The World.

Though obviously subjective and prone to biases, I’ve done my best to list out these brands based on the following metrics (in no particular order):

  • Company reputation
  • Variety of equalizers
  • Performance of equalizers
  • Longevity of equalizers
  • Currently in operation

With all that being said, let’s list out the brands.

The top 11 best [hardware] equalizer brands, overall, on the market today are:

  1. Pultec
  2. Manley
  3. API
  4. Mäag Audio
  5. Rupert Neve Designs
  6. AMS Neve
  7. Solid State Logic
  8. dbx
  9. Chandler Limited
  10. SPL
  11. Drawmer

Let’s get into each of these brands in greater detail and explain why they belong in the top 11 best equalizer brands. I’ll share their country of origin, a bit of history, an example of a notable EQ unit, and a link to their official website.

Related article: Complete Guide To Audio Equalization & EQ Hardware/Software


Click here to return to My New Microphone’s articles on musical equipment brands/manufacturers.


Pultec

Pultec (Pulse Techniques) has been around since the early 1950s and, since then, has made a name for itself as a manufacturer of legendary equalizers. The EQP, EQM and MEQ lines have been emulated time and time again by other notable manufacturers in both hardware and software products.

Pultec equalizers are among the most respected and sought-after in the entire world. This forward-thinking company was one of the firsts to produce dedicated equalizers and has certainly become one the most legendary.

Though the company folded for nearly two decades (from 1981 to 2000), modern-day Pultec is equally dedicated to producing high-end audio processors as the original version. This shines through in the Pultec EQs available on the market today.

Notable equalizer: Pultec EQP-1A Passive Tube Program Equalizer (link to check the price at Sweetwater)

Pultec EQP-1A

The EQP-1A is a passive equalizer that was originally introduced in 1961. This 3U rack-mounted unit is massive by today’s standards but offers that classic equalization and character that helped make Pultec the successful brand it is today. In professional audio engineering circles, the EQP-1A is deeply revered.

To learn more about passive EQ, check out my article The Complete Guide To Passive Equalization/EQ.

Pultec was founded in 1953 by Gene Shenk and Ollie Summerlin in Teaneck, New Jersey, USA. The company closed its doors in 1981 but was revived in the early 2000s by Steve Jackson. Today the Pulse Techniques headquarters is located in Fort Collins, Colorado, USA.

Official website: pulsetechniques.com


Manley

Manley Laboratories’ history stems back to 1980 in South Africa, but the brand was made official in 1988 in the USA. Since then, Manley has become a well-known and well-respected company in the pro audio and hi-fi audio worlds.

Among the impressive catalogue of high-end pro audio equipment, Manley offers several top-of-the-line equalizers. These EQ units are largely inspired by the aforementioned Pultec designs but hold their own in the modern market.

These passive EQs are among the best in the world. Manley proudly maintains the great analog traditions upon which the company was built while pushing forward to design and produce the future’s top-performing audio equipment.

Notable equalizer: Manley Massive Passive Stereo Tube EQ (link to check the price at Sweetwater)

Manley Massive Passive Stereo Tube EQ

The Manley Massive Passive is a passive stereo equalizer with parametric functionality. It’s been described as “a Pultec on steroids,” and we can see how that statement could be true just by looking at the unit. This EQ sounds amazing on any sound source though it’s perhaps best used in mastering.

To learn more about stereo EQ, check out my article What Is Stereo Equalization/EQ In Audio & How Does It Work?

Manley Laboratories, Inc. was founded in 1988 by David Manley in Chino, California. The company headquarters is located in Chino, California, USA.

Official website: manley.com

Manley Laboratories is also featured in the following My New Microphone article:
Top 11 Best Audio Compressor Brands In The World


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API

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Automated Processes Incorporated, better known as API, is an American manufacturer/brand of high-end professional-grade audio equipment for recording studios. API’s impressive catalogue features several high-end equalizers that give the company a certain spot on this list.

With a mission to create the highest possible quality professional audio gear, API blends modern technology and vintage wisdom to produce awesome gear while maintaining the production of many units that made the company so successful in the first place.

Since 1968, API has been continuously making a name for itself as an innovator of top-notch audio equipment. This top-of-the-line gear, of course, includes some of the best EQs out there.

Notable equalizer: API 550A 500 Series 3-Band Equalizer (link to check the price at Sweetwater)

API 550A 500 Series 3-Band Equalizer

The API 550A is a 3-band semi-parametric EQ in the 500 Series format (a format invented by API). Since its introduction in the late 1960s, this EQ has come to be regarded by many as one of the greatest EQ units ever to be built. With simple functionality and superior sonic performance, it makes perfect sense that this unit is as cherished as it is.

For more information on 500 Series audio gear, check out my article What Is 500 Series Audio Equipment & Is It Worth It?

Automated Processes, Inc. was founded in 1968 by Saul Walker and Lou Lindauer in New York City, New York, USA.

Official website: apiaudio.com

API is also featured in the following My New Microphone articles:
Top 13 Best Microphone Preamplifier Brands In The World
Top 10 Best Studio Recording/Mixing Console Brands
Top 11 Best Audio Compressor Brands In The World

Top 11 Best Audio Brands For 500 Series Modules/Equipment


Mäag Audio

Mäag Audio is a high-end American audio equipment manufacturer with the goal of producing elite professional audio gear to compliment the audio engineer’s craft.

The brand’s EQs, characterized, to some extent, by the company’s Air Band technology (a proprietary adjustable high shelf filter). What we can expect from Mäag’s equalizers is a clean and crisp sound that can be altered to our precise liking.

Only the finest components are used in Mäag Audio gear, and the company prides itself on a build quality that is among the best in the entire audio industry. This can be heard and felt in every one of their superb equalizers.

Notable equalizer: Mäag Audio EQ4 (link to check the price at Sweetwater)

Mäag Audio EQ4

The EQ4 is a single-channel 6-band EQ in the 500 Series format. It features Mäag’s proprietary Air Band and offers unparalleled transparency with minimal phase-shift and notable top-end presence.

Mäag Audio was founded in 2009 by Cliff Mäag Sr. The company headquarters is located in Provo, Utah, USA.

Official website: maag.audio


Rupert Neve Designs

Though Rupert Neve Designs was only founded in 2005, the company draws on the impressive experience and knowledge of the late Rupert Neve (who founded Neve Electronics, which eventually became AMS Neve).

Rupert Neve Designs’ expert team is responsible for a deep catalogue of highly-regarded audio processors, including several of the world’s best equalizers.

High-quality components and ingenious designs are part of these superior equalizers. With such a revered reputation, these EQ units deliver the performance we’d expect from RND products.

Notable equalizer: Rupert Neve Designs 551 500 Series Inductor Equalizer (link to check the price at Sweetwater)

Rupert Neve Designs 551 Inductor EQ

The 551 Inductor EQ is relatively new compared to the others on this list. This 500 Series EQ was designed completely by Rupert Neve himself and was inspired directly by his most cherished vintage designs. The 3-band EQ is built with custom-wound inductors, transformers and class-A gain blocks to offer a powerful signal processor with just the right amount of character for the more challenging EQ applications.

For more information on parametric/semi-parametric EQ, check out the following My New Microphone articles:
The Complete Guide To Parametric Equalization/EQ
What Is Semi-Parametric Equalization/EQ In Audio?

Rupert Neve Designs was founded in 2005 by Rupert Neve in Wimberley, Texas, United States, where the company is still headquartered today.

Official Website: rupertneve.com

Rupert Neve Designs is also featured in the following My New Microphone articles:
Top 10 Best Studio Recording/Mixing Console Brands
Top 11 Best Audio Compressor Brands In The World

Top 11 Best Audio Brands For 500 Series Modules/Equipment
Top 11 Best Direct Inject Audio Box Brands On The Market


AMS Neve

AMS, which came about as a merger of Neve Electronics and Advanced Music Systems, holds onto several of Rupert Neve’s most famed and cherished designs. Among many other designs are superb equalizers.

Since its inception, the Neve brand has specialized in the finest professional audio consoles and systems, utilizing Class A designs and high-quality components to produce top-of-the-line equipment, including EQs.

Users of Neve equalizers can expect superior performance and longevity. Today, the company continues to improve with new technological advancements while holding onto traditional design concepts that have made Neve a go-to brand since the early days.

Notable equalizer: Neve 1073LBEQ 500 Series (link to check the price at Sweetwater)

Neve 1073LBEQ 500 Series

The Neve 1073LBEQ is a mono EQ module that retains the original Neve 1073 classic EQ’s unique sonic characteristics by using the same circuit architecture and matching components.

Neve Electronics was founded in 1961 by Rupert Neve in England. The company was acquired by the Siemens Group in 1985 and was later combined with another Siemens company (Advanced Music Systems) to form AMS Neve in 1992. Today the company is headquartered in Burnley, Lancashire, United Kingdom.

Official Website: ams-neve.com

AMS Neve is also featured in the following My New Microphone articles:
Top 13 Best Microphone Preamplifier Brands In The World
Top 10 Best Studio Recording/Mixing Console Brands


Solid State Logic

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Solid State Logic has been, for quite some time, one of the most respected names in the audio industry. When it comes to studio consoles, the brand is perhaps the greatest of all time.

In developing some of the world’s best studio consoles, SSL also designed some of the best channel strips, which include, in many cases, EQ sections.

These equalizers (typically in full channel strips) have been emulated many times by plugin manufacturers, and today SSL offers an EQ in 500 Series format. We can now enjoy a proper hardware SSL EQ without spending a fortune on a full SSL console.

Since 1969, SSL has been building its reputation as an industry-leading manufacturer of audio consoles. Though most of its EQs are not available for individual sale, the company has produced some of the best and is worthy of mention in this article.

Notable equalizer: Solid State Logic 611EQ (link to check the price at Sweetwater)

Solid State Logic 611EQ 500 Series

The SSL 611EQ is a 500 Series EQ based on the classic 611E console channel strip. This versatile 4-band EQ offers bell-curve high-frequency and low-frequency filters along with fully parametric control of the low-mid and high-mid frequency bands. This EQ offers the sought-after character of a high-end SSL board EQ in a compact module.

Solid State Logic was founded in 1969 by Colin Sanders in Stonesfiled, Oxfordshire. The company was sold to Audiotonix Group in 2017. It is headquartered in Begbroke, Oxfordshire, England.

Official Website: solidstatelogic.com

Solid State Logic is also featured in the following My New Microphone articles:
Top 11 Best Audio Interface Brands In The World
Top 11 Best DAW Control Surface Brands In The World
Top 10 Best Live Sound Mixing Board/Console Brands
Top 13 Best Microphone Preamplifier Brands In The World
Top 11 Best Studio Recording/Mixing Console Brands

Top 11 Best Audio Compressor Brands In The World
Top 11 Best Audio Brands For 500 Series Modules/Equipment


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dbx

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dbx has been an innovative company since its introduction in the early 1970s. This innovation, combined with a dedication to producing high-end audio equipment, has made dbx an esteemed brand in the audio world.

When it comes to EQ, dbx is particularly well-known for its top-of-the-line graphic equalizers. Rugged and reliable, these equalizers have become industry-standard at all levels and are particularly popular in live sound applications.

But whether you’re in a studio or on the road, dbx equalizers will get the job done again and again and again, making this brand one of the top manufacturers of EQ units in the world.

Notable equalizer: dbx 231s Dual-Channel Graphic Equalizer (link to check the price at Sweetwater)

dbx 231s

The dbx 231s is a dual-channel graphic EQ with 31 channels of third-octave equalization per band. The unit’s 20mm sliders allow users to visually dial in ±6 dB or ±12 dB depending on the selected boost/cut range. This unit is tough and immaculate in its equalization of any sources.

To learn more about graphic EQ, check out my article The Complete Guide To Graphic Equalization/EQ.

dbx Inc. was founded in 1971 by David E. Blackmer in Sandy, Utah. After several acquisitions, dbx was bought by Harmon International Industries, which is owned by Samsung Electronics. The dbx brand is still headquartered in Sandy, Utah, USA.

Official website: dbxpro.com

dbx is also featured in the following My New Microphone articles:
Top 13 Best Microphone Preamplifier Brands In The World
Top 11 Best Audio Compressor Brands In The World

Top 11 Best Audio Brands For 500 Series Modules/Equipment


Chandler Limited

Chandler Limited is best known for its meticulous recreations of classic outboard gear (most notably the Neve 2254 and 33609 and the EMI Abbey Road console processors).

Since then, Chandler has begun producing its own original products, further solidifying its reputation as a producer of top-notch audio processing equipment.

Whether it’s vintage replicas or modern novelties, Chandler Limited’s equalizers are among the best of the best.

Notable equalizer: Chandler Limited TG12345 Curve Bender Mastering Equalizer (link to check the price at Sweetwater)

Chandler Limited TG12345 Curve Bender Mastering Equalizer

The Curve Bender is the ultimate TG equalizer issued in celebration of the 75th birthday of Abbey Road Studios. This beast of an EQ is based on the legendary vintage EMI TH12345 desk used in Abbey Road Studios to record such legendary groups as The Beatles and Pink Floyd. In addition to all the vintage character we could even ask for, the Curve Bender offers some modern improvements to make it an all-around better EQ unit.

Chandler Limited was founded in 1999 by Wade Goeke in North Hollywood, California. Today the company is headquartered in Shell Rock, Iowa, USA.

Official website: chandlerlimited.com

Chandler Limited is also featured in the following My New Microphone article:
Top 11 Best Audio Compressor Brands In The World


SPL

SPL is a rather experimental company that continuously innovates, producing high-end audio equipment while doing so. Since 1983, SPL has slowly developed its impressive lineup of products and made a name for itself as a high-end brand.

This company boasts a spectacular range of products and a rather deep catalogue of top-of-the-line audio equipment, offering advanced products for discerning studio professionals.

Though SPL doesn’t specialize in any particular product, its equalizers are certainly among the best on the market.

Notable equalizer: SPL PQ Mastering Equalizer (link to check the price at Sweetwater)

SPL PQ Mastering Equalizer

The SPL PQ is a stereo mastering EQ unit with 5 fully parametric filter bands per channel, each of which can be switched between constant Q and proportional Q. This unit is incredibly precise and offers some of the most transparent equalization ever.

Sound Performance Lab was founded in 1983 by Hermann Gier and Wolfgang Neumann. The SPL headquarters is located in Niederkruechten, Germany.

Official website: spl.audio

Sound Performance Lab is also featured in the following My New Microphone articles:
Top 11 Best Audio Compressor Brands In The World
Top 11 Phono Stage/Preamplifier Brands In The World


Drawmer

Drawmer may not be the most famous company on this list, but their equalizers are certainly among the best. Since the 1980s, Drawmer has been steadily developing professional products that would find themselves in professional studios worldwide.

Drawmer has a relatively deep catalogue of pro audio equipment that includes several high-end equalizers. Each of these products has been well-thought-out and produced to a superb standard.

Today, Drawmer is involved mostly in digital audio research and development, though the brand’s older units remain in production.

Notable equalizer: Drawmer 1961 Vacuum Tube Parametric Equaliser (link to check the price at Sweetwater)

Drawmer 1961 Vacuum Tube Parametric Equaliser

The 1961 Vacuum Tube Equaliser is a 2-channel mastering EQ with 4 semi-parametric bands per channel. This unit allows users to dial in just the right amount of “tube effect” by adjusting how hard each tube of each filter is driven. This design produces a unique EQ with tons of creative potential.

Drawmer Electronics was founded in 1981 by Ivor Drawmer in Yorkshire, England. The company headquarters is located in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, United Kingdom.

Official website: drawmer.com


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Bonus Brand: Warm Audio

Warm Audio’s mission is to help aspiring musicians & engineers obtain access to professional recording equipment without requiring the large down payments of most high-end audio gear.

The company aims to produce affordable versions of classic or otherwise well-known and sought-after pieces of gear, only at a fraction of the price.

Don’t expect much out of the ordinary with Warm Audio. Rather, be prepared for cost-affordable recreations of classics that sound great and perform well.

Warm audio carefully chooses its product components from select suppliers to ensure the highest quality-to-price ratio. This process allows them to run a boutique-style shop that provides top-of-the-line equalizers at affordable price points.

Notable equalizer: Warm Audio EQP-WA Tube Equalizer (link to check the price at Sweetwater)

Warm Audio EQP-WA Tube Equalizer

The Warm Audio EQP-WA is a recreation of the aforementioned Pultec EQP-1A. Of course, it’s not a true clone of the EQP-1A. However, if you’re looking to add character and brilliance to your mixes on a relative budget, the Warm Audio EQP-WA will get you great results.

Warm Audio was founded in 2011 by Bryce Young in his garage in Austin, Texas, USA. The company is headquartered in Austin, Texas, USA.

Official website: warmaudio.com

Warm Audio is also featured in the following My New Microphone articles:
Top 11 Best Microphone Brands You’ve Likely Never Heard Of

Top 11 Best Direct Inject Audio Box Brands On The Market


Honourable Mentions

It’s difficult to set a defined number of “top” brands in most categories, let alone the category of hardware audio equalizers. There are plenty of other superb brands on the market today that could have easily made the list. Some honourable mentions include:

  1. Daking
  2. A-Designs
  3. GML
  4. Dangerous Music
  5. Trident
  6. Tube-Tech
  7. Elysia
  8. Black Lion Audio
  9. Tegeler Audio Manufaktur
  10. Empirical Labs
  11. BAE
  12. Heritage Audio
  13. Golden Age Project

Determining the best equalizer for your audio needs takes time, knowledge and effort. For this reason, I’ve created My New Microphone’s Comprehensive Equalizer Buyer’s Guide. Check it out for help in determining your next EQ purchases.


This article has been approved in accordance with the My New Microphone Editorial Policy.

Arthur

Arthur is the owner of Fox Media Tech and author of My New Microphone. He's an audio engineer by trade and works on contract in his home country of Canada. When not blogging on MNM, he's likely hiking outdoors and blogging at Hikers' Movement (hikersmovement.com) or composing music for media. Check out his Pond5 and AudioJungle accounts.

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